Unbelievable as it may be while you are still enjoying the summer beach sun, but it is almost Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year! The High Holiday season comes with arrival of autumn, time to spend with family, and of course, in typical Jewish fashion, lots and lots of food! Although we all try to take it easy during the holiday season, a couple slices of challah, a smidge of noodle pudding, and just a slice of brisket all add up, especially when you end the meal with a slice of apple cake…
I indulge in these treats during the holiday season as much as the next person – yes, even nutritionists look forward to calorically-dense and deliciously sweet holiday treats. Luckily, Rosh Hashanah just so happens to have a traditional option that is a GREAT BANG FOR YOUR BITE: apples dipped in honey, to symbolize our hopes for a "sweet" New Year!
Why have you done a good thing?
Apples combine fiber and antioxidant nutrients in a way that is unique and unmatched by other fruits. A great source of fiber, each 5-ounce apple (medium sized) contains 4 grams of dietary fiber (including soluble fiber) or about 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for fiber. As we have spoken about before, soluble fiber helps lower our LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), control blood sugar, promote regularity, and keeps us full preventing overeating.
Apples also contain a long list of phytonutrients and flavanoids that function as antioxidants. Antioxidants are one key to heart health because they help protect our cardiovascular system from oxygen-related damage, preventing heart disease and many cancers. Apples are also very high in vitamin C, which not only serves as an antioxidant but also works to boost absorption of iron and our immune systems to prevent illness.
Likewise, nature’s natural sweetener, honey, also contains antioxidants. Raw honey contains propolis aka."a bee glue," which is a complex mixture of resins and other substances that honeybees use to seal the hive and make it safe from bacteria and other micro-organisms, giving honey anti-bacterial and immunity boosting properties. Additionally, consuming honey from your area over long periods of time has been shown to reduce allergic reactions to pollen, making raw honey the healthiest choice. Honey has also been shown to be the healthiest sweetener for blood sugar control and has even been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. However, the nutritional quality of the honey depends on the quality of the honey; meaning the less processed the honey, the healthier it is.
**Safety Note: Children under the age of 12 months should not consume honey as it is associated with the foodborne intoxication botulism.
So if apples and honey are your preferred Rosh Hashanah treats, know that you eating a great Bang for your Bite, as well as Fall seasonal items!! With all other holiday dishes, keep your waistline in check by picking and sticking to your absolute favorites and savoring small, controlled portions. Enjoy a taste of all your holiday favorites without over-indulging. Also, try this healthier take on the Rosh Hashanah favorite: apple cake!!
GRANDMA JANE’S NUTRITIOUS ROSH HASHANAH APPLE TART
Yield: 12 servings
CRUST (adapted from EatingWell Magazine http://www.eatingwell.com/):
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup walnuts
4 ½ tablespoons 1% milk (Kosher and trying to keep dinner pareve? Substitute soy, almond, or rice milk instead)
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 and 1/8 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ and 1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
6 medium-sized Apples, 2 lbs– suggest variety including Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Gala apples **experiment with local varieties!!
¼ cup of water
½ tsp of ground cinnamon
1 10 ounce jar of natural Apricot preserves – suggest Sarabeth’s Kitchen preserves http://www.sarabeth.com/ (avoid brands with high fructose corn syrup)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons of raw or local honey (check out your local farmer’s market: NYC http://www.grownyc.org/files/gmkt/map.pdf or WESTCHESTER COUNTY http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/CommunityFarmersMarkets.asp#Westchester%20Coun
To prepare crust:
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Coat a 9-inch tart pan (with removable bottom) with cooking spray.
3) Spread oats and walnuts in a small baking dish and bake, stirring occasionally, until toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
4) Place the oats and walnuts in a food processor and process until finely ground.
5) Combine milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
6) Whisk the ground oats, flour, sugar, lemon zest, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
7) Drizzle oil onto the dry ingredients and stir with a fork or your fingers until crumbly. Use a fork to stir in the milk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough just comes together.
8) Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough out to an 11-inch circle, dusting with flour if necessary.
9) Transfer to the prepared pan, pressing to fit. Trim the edges.
10) Line the tart shell with a piece of foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove weights and foil or paper and bake until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes more. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
To prepare filling:
1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Peel and core all apples. Set aside 3 apples in whole form and cut 3 apples into chunks.
3) In blender or food processor, combine ¼ cup water with about one-third of apple chunks with cinnamon. Cover and blend at high speed until apples are pureed. Add remaining apple chunks, a third at a time; blend until smooth forming applesauce.
4) Pour applesauce into a small saucepan; stir in 1/3 cup apricot preserves. Over high heat, heat to boiling. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-high and cook uncovered for about 20 minutes or until very thick, stirring constantly.
5) Cut each of the remaining 3 whole apples into thin slices. Gently toss apple slices with lemon juice and honey.
6) Spread applesauce evenly over piecrust. Arrange apple slices, closely overlapping to form concentric circles around the pie. Bake for 45 minutes or until apple slices are tender and browned. **Baking tip– if you notice edges of crust getting too browned before the pie is done baking, cover edges with a strip of aluminum foil until pie is done.
7) Heat remaining apricot preserves over medium high heat about 2 minutes until thick enough to coat a spoon. Spread hot apricot preserves evenly over top of pie. Allow to cool and serve.
Shana Tova and Have a Sweet New Year everyone!!